Myst 2

Karin Wenz, Assistant Professor of English, University of Kassel

Spatial motifs which are used in Myst are media of orientation and disorientation: for example a map in the library in connection with a window or peephole functions as a guide to the island. Both are indicators where to find the entrances to the hidden worlds. In Myst the window in connection with the map supports the user's orientation and functionsas an interface between the multiple spaces within this storyworld. These examples are means of orientation which are necessary in a world whicha user has to explore on his or her own. Media of orientation tend to appear as media of disorientation for a user who does not know how to use them.This is for example obvious in an underground labyrinth which can only be crossed when the user knows in advance which directions to choose. The player's capacity for mental reconstruction can help to transcend a mental image of geometric relationships among the linked parts of the game. Such efforts to conceptualize the work spatially can be quite successful, especially if the author helps out by providing means of orientation. A reader can navigate the game not just putting together a reading but also creating a mental model of the game's architecture. The spatial motifs of Myst cite literary precursors. Their spatial functionis an intertextual one: the labyrinth alludes to the Greek labyrinth as well as to the technological set of Science Fiction; added to this SF set we find an oversized gear wheel, and a spaceship. The library and the books allude to the world of Borges' or Eco's libraries as well as to the world of fiction and storytelling in printed books in general. We find two wells which remind us of the function of a well infairy-tales and last but not least the cottages in the trees which allude Calvino's Barone rampante who lives in the trees.

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